Arpico mulls automotive component manufacturing

The diversified conglomerate and the leading planter in the country, Richard Pieris and Company PLC is considering venturing in to automotive component manufacturing, under the corporate brand ‘Arpico’, according to top company official.

The majority shareholder and the Chairman of Richard Pieris group, Dr. Sena Yaddehige said the technology was already available with him and the venture could be started even within six months.

“I have the required technology back in England and it is just a matter of fixing it here,” said Dr. Yaddehige on the sidelines of an event to mark the launch of its finance arm last week.

The Sri Lankan-born British scientist/engineer who has previous experience in the automotive sector in Germany further said that he was looking at the Japanese market that houses many auto giants such as Toyota.

“Not only Japanese car makers, we can even tap other regional car makers, particularly Indian car makers such as Tata and Mahindra & Mahindra among others,” he said.

According to him, the idea was inspired during his recent visit to Japan where millions of automobiles were recalled by Toyota Motor Corp. due to a problem in their pedal system costing the company millions of dollars.

 “When I closely looked at what had gone wrong with their pedal systems, I realized that those pedal systems had not been procured from the company where I worked.

So, soon I saw the opportunity for us (Arpico) to offer these parts,” said the Swiss-based industrialist whose original research work involves Automotive Pedal Systems among many others.

However he did not disclose either the extent of the investment or what automotive parts would be produced perhaps because he would have considered it to be too premature.

It also revealed that the group had invested as much as Rs.3.0 billion in acquiring sites for its distribution arm. “We recently invested Rs.300 million for a land to put up our 5th Arpico Super Centre,” he remarked.

Furthermore, the company is also looking for lands for Palm oil cultivation in countries such as Cambodia, Vietnam, Ethiopia and Indonesia as the company finds it difficult to clear lands in Sri Lanka. The company spends Rs.400 to Rs.500 million annually for the re-planting of tea, rubber and Palm, he stressed.

Dr. Yaddehige holds a large number of worldwide patents on radiation processing, contactless sensors and drive by wire systems along with a Sri Lankan patent for slow release fertilizer.

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